LAS VEGAS -- NATO recently announced that the 2016 NATO Show in Las Vegas would be the last. One of the main reasons was so the organization could devote more efforts to growing legislative activity at the state and local level.
“Local regulations are the hardest to track and monitor,” NATO executive director Thomas Briant said during the 2016 NATO Show. “Sometimes we have a week, sometimes we have hours.”
Besides being the most difficult to track, activity on the local level is growing leaps and bounds. According to Briant, anti-tobacco advocates “have decided it’s easier to pass local measures than at the state and federal level.”
Briant identified three local regulatory trends that might gain traction in 2016:
1. Flavor bans: Flavor bans are nothing new: Providence, R.I., passed a flavors law back in 2012. But flavor-centric activity certainly increased in 2015, with Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minn., and Boston all passing laws that outlawed flavored tobacco in nonage-exclusive locations (such as convenience stores). So far, Massachusetts has led the charge with 43 cities and local municipalities passing flavor bans.
2. Minimum purchase age: In 2015, Hawaii became the first state to raise its tobacco purchase age to 21. In 2016, an additional 16 states proposed “21” laws, but failed to enact them. At the time of the NATO Show, only California successfully passed an increase to its minimum purchase age, but was still waiting on the governor to sign it into law.
3. A “tobacco-free generation”: Back in 2014, Westminster, Mass., famously attempted (and failed) to ban all tobacco sales. Brookline, Mass., has taken what Briant described as a “twist” on banning tobacco, proposing a law that bans tobacco to anyone born after 1995. Even though Brookline’s equivalent of a city council declined to vote on the measure, it could gain traction elsewhere.
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